Red Bali, Green Maeng Da, White Borneo. One of the first things people notice when shopping for kratom is the different colors and regional names these products have. These various kratom strains can be quite confusing, especially since different strains are often described as having the exact same qualities. We’re going to give you the simple truth needed to quickly and confidently shop for these kratom products, as well as nuances that can help you detect the real differences from the marketing gimmicks.
The Three Major Types of Kratom Strains
These strains are made from more mature leaves of the kratom tree (Mitragyna speciosa) whose veins have turned red. Keep in mind that while red vein is often described as having a relaxing, soothing quality, it’s not meant to be taken as a sedative. When taken in a responsible serving size, red vein kratom will still act as an energy-booster for most individuals. Thus, these kratom strains are especially popular with people who are looking to put a little extra pep in their step but are sensitive to the jittery effects of common stimulants.
If neither white nor red kratom strains sound perfect for you, green varieties are a natural middle ground and a popular choice among first-timers who are looking for a fair representation of the overall kratom experience. This kratom is harvested in the middle of the tree’s life cycle when the veins have a green color. This kratom is often described as optimizing focus and mental clarity.
If you’re looking for a pure energy boost, white vein kratom is the choice for you. This makes white vein kratom popular for a pre-workout boost, especially for those people who are leery about using stronger kratom extracts. Harvested from younger kratom trees, this strain is also described as having an uplifting, mood-enhancing quality.
Common Myths about the Different Kratom Strains
While it’s good to know about the various kratom strains, the differences in the experience they create are frequently overstated. The serving size–including the concentration of alkaloids which are responsible for most of kratom’s effects–is a much bigger factor than the strain in the overall quality of the kratom experience.
Yes, there is a connection between kratom strains and alkaloid profile, but the truth is a lot more slippery than most people let on. Too often, sources will simply say there is more 7-hydroxymitragynine alkaloid in red kratom strains and more mitragynine alkaloid in white kratom strains and leave it at that. Instead, the biggest factor, by far, for alkaloid concentrations is the age of the kratom tree.
Old-growth trees that are 50 or even 100 years old typically have much higher alkaloid concentrations than young kratom trees. While there are not yet enough old-growth trees to meet the commercial demand, kratom extracts offer a budget-friendly option for highly concentrated mitragynine.
Moreover, there are more than 40 different alkaloids in kratom leaves. The scientific community has continued to identify new kratom alkaloids in recent years. We have an incomplete understanding of the effects of these individual alkaloids, as well as how the full spectrum of kratom alkaloids interact together.
Different Kratom Strains from MIT45
We encourage kratom consumers to pay attention to the kratom strain, but even more important is to get your kratom from a vendor that analyzes and publishes the alkaloid content and mitragynine concentrations of its various products. You can check out our Certificate of Analysis for more detailed information, but all MIT45 products clearly indicate their mitragynine content, the primary alkaloid in kratom, including the following concentrations for each strain.
- Red Vein: Our red vein kratom powders typically have about 1.0-1.4% mitragynine content. The average serving size is one gram, or about 10-14mg of mitragynine.
- Green Vein: Our green vein kratom powders typically have about 1.3-1.8% mitragynine content. The average serving size is one gram, or about 13-18mg of mitragynine.
- White Vein: Our white vein kratom powders also have about 1.3-1.8% mitragynine content. The average serving size is one gram, or about 13-18mg of mitragynine.
Mitragynine is known for creating kratom’s energizing effects in particular, but again there may be slightly higher concentrations of other alkaloids in red vein kratom. This is likely why some users report a more soothing or relaxing experience with red kratom strains, but it’s not really accurate to describe red vein kratom as being inherently stronger or weaker than white or green kratom strains.
Blended Kratom and Custom Cultivars
Yellow or Gold Kratom
You may find products that are labeled as yellow or gold kratom strains. Often, these products are simply different blends of red, green, and/or white vein kratom. Some sources create their yellow or gold kratom from a novel or extended drying process, while others achieve something of a yellow color from letting red vein kratom stay on the stem even longer than usual. For each method, there is little to no evidence showing consistent differences or benefits from these kratom strains. Often, the most reputable kratom vendors stay away from these gimmicky products and unsubstantiated claims altogether.
Like most plants and animals, kratom can be engineered through selective breeding. Kratom horticulturalists will identify trees that produce more desirable effects and, presumably, higher alkaloid concentrations. These trees are then allowed to reproduce and the process is repeated to create a stronger form of kratom. While the exact origins are unknown, it’s believed this is how Thai farmers created the Maeng Da kratom strain some time in the 19th century.
Another type of kratom is known as elephant kratom. These kratom cultivars are grown almost exclusively in the northwest corner of Sumatra, where dense rain forest creates the necessary conditions for this cultivar to thrive. The telltale difference with this kratom is the oversized leaves that droop like elephant ears. Like Maeng Da, this strain of kratom is believed to have slightly higher alkaloid concentrations, though serving size is still a bigger factor in predicting kratom’s effects.
One of the challenges of introducing custom kratom cultivars is the cost of lab testing and quality assurance. To ensure a reliable kratom experience that can be managed effectively by individual users, the amount and concentration of the alkaloid content in each batch of kratom must be analyzed and communicated to kratom users. Since cultivars are typically grown in smaller batches, especially at first, it can take considerable resources to create, grow, and distribute kratom cultivars in a responsible and economically viable way.
Super, Ultra, and Enhanced Kratom Strains
You want to be very careful to read the fine print before buying and using these kratom products. That’s because they don’t always mean the same thing. Often, Super and Ultra kratom varieties are simply raw kratom powders with slightly higher alkaloid concentrations. Sometimes, however, these products are made from extracts with significantly higher alkaloid concentrations, which can deliver unexpected and unpleasant effects when not taken in smaller doses. Enhanced kratom is more of a mixed bag of raw kratom and kratom extract products, so be extra careful with these products as well.
If this wasn’t already confusing enough, bentuangie kratom exists in its own kind of gray area. After harvesting, this kratom is placed in bags and the resulting moisture creates oxidation that partially metabolizes the kratom, leading to higher concentrations of psychoactive alkaloids. This specialized process must be closely monitored and the resulting product carefully tested to ensure mold didn’t form during the fermentation. In general, bentuangie kratom is stronger than unfermented kratom but not as strong as kratom extracts produced from other methods.
Differences in Regional Kratom Sources
Along with the color of the strain, the most common information provided by product descriptions is where the kratom came from. But here’s the truth a lot of kratom vendors won’t tell you: Nearly all commercially available kratom is grown in or around Pontianak, a provincial capital in Indonesia and major port city in West Borneo.
Why, then, is kratom so commonly marketed as being from specific regions? It’s because kratom farmers get seeds, cuttings, or rooted plants from regions across Southeast Asia and then cultivate them in the carefully controlled conditions of Pontianak kratom farms. While there may be some differences in the indigenous soils and climates, more of the variations between kratom strains come from the genetics of the seed or starter plant.
With that in mind, here are some of the reported differences in the regional kratom sources and the current outlook for kratom cultivation in these areas.
Often thought of as kratom’s birthplace including the popular Maeng Da strain, Thailand’s kratom used to be among the most abundant in the world until it was banned from 1943 to 2021. The country’s kratom industry is still working its way back, hoping to capitalize on its rich history, old-growth kratom trees, and the Maeng Da strain in particular. It’s unclear that Thailand will be able to compete with Pontianak anytime soon for international kratom exports, but Thai kratom strains are some of the strongest, well-established varieties you’ll find.
Indonesian “Indo” Kratom
While Indonesia may ban kratom for domestic sale and possession in 2024, it’s believed these restrictions are unlikely to affect the cultivation of kratom for global distribution. While each Indo strain is described as having unique characteristics, few sources provide concrete details or lab testing with complete alkaloid profiles to back up their claims. Trial-and-error is probably your best bet, if you believe these regional sources make any notable difference at all. Regions in Indonesia with their own sub-strains of kratom include: Bali, Sumatra, Sulawesi, Hulu, and Borneo.
Malaysian “Malay” Kratom
Despite kratom technically being illegal in Malaysia, the country does issue some kratom-growing permits and enforcement of the kratom ban is spotty at best with one survey indicating 88% of Malaysian people use kratom on a daily basis. Moreover, Malaysia owns the northern part of Borneo island, making it geographically similar and relatively easy to transport Malay kratom plants to Pontianak farms. Perhaps because Malay kratom strains have a general reputation for their balanced effects, Green Malay kratom strains tend to be especially popular.
Other Southeast Asian Countries
Kratom is also native to many other countries in southeast Asia including Vietnam, Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia, Laos, and Papua New Guinea though commercial cultivation is limited. That said, Vietnam kratom has become something of the latest fad in the kratom community. Even more so than other southeast Asian countries, Vietnam has distinct wet and dry seasons that may contribute to the alleged differences in the effects of these kratom strains–even if the plants are grown in West Borneo.
The MIT45 Approach to Kratom Strains
Again, our view is that most of the differences between various kratom strains are overrated, but we do recognize the differences between red, green, and white vein kratom. Moreover, we’re able to leverage our purchasing power and existing relationships to source the best of the best from Pontianak kratom farms. This allows us to guarantee the quality of our kratom powder, carefully control the mitragynine levels, and deliver a consistent experience from one batch to the next. Discover the MIT45 difference with your next kratom order.
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